Looking after your cimbidium orchids

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A list of tips on how to look after your cimbidium orchids. Dowload it: it's free!

Published : Thursday, August 18, 2011
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LOOKING AFTER YOUR CYMBIDIUM ORCHIDS
Easy to Grow
The Cymbidium, which is only one of many different orchid
genera, is a temperate climate orchid which grows very well
under Perth’s climatic conditions, provided it is given some
protection from the hot summer and some fertiliser.
They are
tough, hardy plants despite the delicate appearance of their
flowers.
Shadecloth
It is not essential, but ideally Cymbidiums should be grown
under shadecloth – 70% away from the coast or 50% closer to
the coast.
They will flower better if provided with as much
uninterrupted, filtered sunshine as is possible.
Many of our
customers successfully grow Cymbidiums under trees that cast
a dappled shade.
Excessive shade reduces flowering.
Cymbidiums thrive in a humid sheltered location – a shade
house is ideal.
Potting Mix
Cymbidium orchids grow best in a coarse, open, free draining
potting medium.
Being semi-terrestrial plants they should not
be planted in the ground.
We recommend our own potting mix
which is coarse, graded pine bark, to which is added blood and
bone at the rate of 10 litres per cubic metre and gypsum at the
rate of 5 litres per cubic metre.
This mix should be thoroughly
damp before use.
Blood and bone will cause the growth of a
fungus which appears like cotton wool in the mix, this should
be ignored as it is harmless to the orchid.
Fertilising
These orchids require regular, minute amounts of balanced
fertiliser.
Fortnightly dilute liquid fertilising is the best method,
but time consuming.
We therefore recommend the use of our
own slow release mix which should be applied in February and
September, at the rate of one teaspoon per 175mm pot.
Over
fertilising, especially with nitrogen, will lead to excessive leaf
growth at the expense of flower spikes.
Flowering
Cymbidium orchids flower between April and October.
The
same plant flowers at the same time each year.
An orchid plant
can be in flower for up to 2 or 3 months.
The flower spikes,
whether left on the plant or cut and placed in a vase, are usually
long lasting.
Orchids are not indoor plants, however, while in
flower they are easily maintained inside provided the potting
mix is kept moist.
To ensure adequate watering while inside,
the pot should be soaked in a bucket of water for ten minutes,
once a week.
The hotter and drier the inside conditions, the
shorter the life of the flower spike will be.
After flowering the
plants should be placed outside.
Splitting
Cymbidium orchids will flower better if grown into large plants
rather than being regularly split into smaller plants.
Orchids are
not adversely affected by being ‘root bound’ or tight in the pot.
An orchid grown well and constrained for too long will usually
split the plastic pot.
Very large plants may be removed from
the pot and split (using a knife), into several plants, ensuring
that each ‘piece’ comprises at least 3 or 4 green pseudo-bulbs
and preferably 1 or 2 backbulbs.
Backbulbs are those old
pseudo-bulbs that have dropped all of their leaves.
Any excess
backbulbs can be stripped of roots and planted (half buried in
potting mix) separately.
From shooting new growth, a
backbulb will take 2 or 3 years to grow into a plant large
enough to flower.
Growth/Flower Habit
Flower spikes arise from mature or maturing green pseudo-
bulbs, which usually only flower once.
The more new shoots a
plant develops, the better it’s flowering potential for the
following year.
Therefore, ensure that your plants are growing
new leads.
After several years, the pseudo-bulb will slowly
lose all of its leaves which turn yellow and fall off.
A leafless
pseudo bulb is called a backbulb.
The backbulbs on a growing
plant can be tidied up by removing the dead leaf husks.
Propagation/Flasks
Mericlone is the term given to a plant that has been generated
through plant tissue culture.
The flower of a mericlone should
be identical to that of the parent plant.
A seedling is produced
from the cross fertilising of two flowering plants – the flowers
of the offspring can be very varied.
From cross pollination to
the flowering of the offspring will take some 5 to 8 years.
Today, Cymbidiums start their young lives growing in sterile
containers called flasks, which contain a nutrient agar medium.
Plants will grow in the flask for 8 to 18 months before being
potted out into the normal growing environment.
It will take
these plants 3 to 4 years to reach flowering size.
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